What To Do To Sell Your House - A Real Estate Agent’s Top 5 Tips
In 2021, nearly 27K homes were sold in Northern Virginia— this is reported to be the highest number since 2005 according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. Whether you’re selling your house in a seller’s market, a buyer’s market, or a balanced market, it’s vital to stand out more than ever.
As a real estate agent, I have some excellent advice on what to do to sell your house if you want to charm your potential buyers, sell fast, and sell for the best price your home deserves.
The competition will always be there—the trick is to distinguish yourself from others by going the extra mile.
Here are my top 5 tips on what to do to sell your house!
1. Effective Pricing Is Absolutely Vital
First and foremost, effective pricing is the most important thing you can do to get a great price for your home sale, and this is even more important in a shifting market.
Believe it or not, overpricing your house can actually lead to a significant drop in price later on. The more you shoot for, the less you might get. The secret is to know just the right price: not too high, not too low, competitive, and ready to spark a bidding war, or at least get the most possible interest from buyers.
Selling a house isn’t actually so different from selling any other product. If you saw two identical cars at two different dealerships, would you go for the more expensive one?
Of course not. Buyers always want a better deal. As a seller, your job is to show them why your house is better than other houses in the neighborhood at a very similar price.
Here’s what happens when you overprice your house:
- Buyers will move on to cheaper properties.
- Your house will sit on the market longer.
- The longer a house is on the market, the less buyers want to pay for it. This is because they automatically assume something is wrong with the property, which is why it hasn’t been sold yet.
- The longer nobody buys your house, the lower your price drops.
- You end up selling for less than if you set a competitive price to begin with.
Now consider the opposite scenario:
- You set a competitive price for your home.
- Many buyers express an interest in the house thanks to its quality and price.
- The bidding war begins. A buyer who is engaged in a bidding war tends to offer a higher price for a property than if there were no competition, which means it’s beneficial to have more buyers interested in your house.
- A bidding war results in not only a higher price but also better terms for you, the seller.
- You sell fast, you sell for a great price, and the job’s done!
Remember, depending on the state of the real estate market and your home’s level of upgrades, you can sometimes get away with pricing a little higher than other sellers.
The first week on the market is always the most vital. Make sure your house makes a great impression as soon as it’s listed!
2. Catch Up On All Deferred Maintenance
It’s the small things that often make the biggest difference. Chipped wood, leaky faucets, marked-up walls, doors that don’t close properly—these are all things that can make or break the deal.
When buyers see there’s a lot of maintenance needed in the house, they will:
- Make negative judgments about the overall condition of your home
- Think they will have a lot of work on their hands if they buy the property
One of the best things to do to sell your house is to look over your home with a critical eye and make a list of all the things—big or small—that need fixing.
Here’s the truth: The more you can present your home as a sparkling showpiece, the more money you'll make on your sale. Consider spending a little bit to update some outdated spaces, such as the bathroom or the kitchen, in order to get a better price on your home.
3. Declutter, Organize, Clean
Of the five senses, sight is the most valued by the general public. When a buyer sees a clean and decluttered house, they will automatically hold your home in higher esteem.
Here are some ways to present a clean home:
- Rent a storage unit to get rid of all clutter. Alternatively, use your garage to store your things.
- It’s okay to leave clothes in closets, but make sure it’s all neat and organized.
- Hire a professional cleaning service. No matter how good a cleaner you are, chances are they are much better.
- Update some features of your house to create a beautiful interior design. For example, add a bathroom shower curtain that goes with the tiles, update the vanity, paint your kitchen cabinets, and add some updated cabinet knobs or handles, and consider adding some stainless steel appliances (let me tell you a secret: almost no one cares about the brand as long as it’s stainless steel, therefore you don’t have to spend too much on this).
4. Staging Is Key
Staging works. Period.
If you’re wondering what to do to sell your house, staging is one of the things you should absolutely consider because it makes your buyers emotionally invested in the space. And the more emotional a buyer gets, the higher the likelihood of a great deal.
What’s more, buyers often lack imagination when viewing vacant homes. They look at two rooms of the same size and consider the vacant one to be smaller because they can’t picture how much furniture can actually fit in the room.
You don’t have to stage your whole house—ask your agent to help you explore discounted staging options that include staging in only a limited number of rooms. Virtual staging (adding digital furniture to photos of an empty space in a computer-assisted design process) also works.
A few rooms are enough to give the buyer a sense of home, a hint of what they could potentially have, a mental image of themselves and their belongings existing in the space. Staging completes the picture in the buyer’s mind, which turns a possibility into a dream.
The money you invest into professional staging makes a great return when you sell your house for a higher price, thanks to the emotional investment you’ve managed to create.
A Pro Tip: Don’t spend a lot of money on big system upgrades right before selling your house. Focus on the more cosmetic aspects. Buyers want a beautiful house that feels like home. New windows or a great HVAC system are just a nice bonus.
5. Hire An Excellent Real Estate Agent
Last but definitely not least, hiring an amazing real estate agent is a must. Some tell-tale signs of an agent who’s worth every penny include:
- They offer reasonable and clear pricing packages
- They know how to effectively run an open house
- They spend money on social media and online leads
- Their website isn’t just a glorified business card, but rather a lead generation machine that generates qualified leads to buy your home
- They’re very effective at negotiating
- They provide excellent counsel in a bidding war situation so that you make the best sale possible
- They’re clear on what exactly they offer for the exact commission that is being charged
- Example: An agent might charge a more expensive listing commission but make up for it by offering to pay for a full staging package including professional cleaning, a moving truck, and so on.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get my house ready to sell in a week? What will a buyer focus on?
Prioritize professional cleaning, decluttering, and small cosmetic upgrades such as positioning house plants throughout the house or planting some flowers in the garden. Small landscaping upgrades are a great way to enhance curb appeal.
What is the secret to a fast sale of a property?
Competitive pricing is vital. Make your house look as beautiful as possible and price it competitively when compared to recent comparable sales in the neighborhood. Always take into account your home's condition and the level of upgrades.
What is the best month to sell your house?
In Northern Virginia, the best time to sell your house is usually spring. I would say that April is the absolute best month. Any time period between late February and late May is great, though.
The worst time would be around Christmas.
What should Northern Virginia homeowners know specifically about selling their homes?
For specific advice on what to do to sell your house in Northern Virginia, get my free report on competitive pricing. It explains what it is in more detail, as well as why it doesn't work everywhere in the United States and why it’s such a successful strategy in the Northern Virginia real estate market.